‘Food Network Star’ creates a team challenge

Bobby Flay (left) with his fellow “Food Network Star” chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown.
Bobby Flay (left) with his fellow “Food Network Star” chefs Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown.
Posted: May 10, 2012

QUESTION FOR Food Network fans: If you had to choose a team to compete on “Food Network Star,” whose would it be?

Your choices are: TV chefs Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis or Alton Brown. For me, there’d be no contest. It would be Flay all the way. To me, he’s the ultimate celebrity chef — competitive, creative, and the man really knows his way around a chopping block.

Flay and De Laurentiis are leaving their judges’ chairs and getting into the on-screen action as the show’s eighth season premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. (There’s also a casting special at 9 p.m. Saturday.) They, along with Brown, will head up three teams of five finalists each, participating challenges such as creating a pop-up restaurant. The winning teammate gets the grand prize which is, of course, being named the Next Food Network Star.

Flay seems happy about the show’s format shift. “It’s been seven years. I felt like we needed a change,” he explained during a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I always wanted to mentor from the judging table.

“I like to teach. I like to get a result out of it instead of just telling people what I liked and didn’t like.”

If anyone knows the nitty gritty of what it takes to be a TV chef, it’s Flay, whose empire includes 15 restaurants and starring roles on Food Network programs — “Iron Chef America” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” among others. I asked him about being known as not just a great chef, but also being one of the nation’s most recognized TV chefs.

“As food grows in this country, there’s room for lots of people to have a say in it. And I feel lucky to be in both categories,” said Flay, who traces his interest in food back to being a teenager and watching TV chefs such as the late Julia Childs or Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. “People are more interested in food and they want better-for-you cuisine. You can’t get away with serving bad food today.” n

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